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State of the program: Defensive Line

Will they finally become opposing quarterbacks worst nightmare?

Texas Tech v TCU Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Throughout the summer, we will be taking a look inside the state of the Texas Tech football program. We will analyze each position as a whole and look at the players that have left the team, the current starting players, and how each position is set up for the future. We now move to the other side of the ball as we look at the big boys getting after the quarterback.

Past

Last year was a very rough and difficult year for this unit. The group had a grand total of 22 tackles for loss, five sacks, and one forced fumble which ranked among the worst in the country and the worst for the Red Raiders in over a decade. To make matters worse, one of the few bright spots for this team last year Ondre Pipkins, graduated and moved on to the NFL. We also saw once heralded 5 star recruit Breiden Fehoko transfer to LSU after a disappointing sophomore season that showed no improvement.

Present

Luckily for the Red Raiders, Pipkins and Fehoko are the only players to leave. Everyone on the D line will be back in 2017 including edge rusher Kolin Hill. Hill, a Notre Dame transfer, led all lineman in tackles and was consistent throughout the entire season last year. and will look to use his power and experience to hurt opposing quarterback. Broderick Washington is another player that impressed mightily through the spring, even beating Fehoko for the starting DT position. Washington and Mychaleon Thomas, both over 6’2” and 300 lbs, could give Tech the size inside the team needs. This unit is one of the deepest and experienced groups on the team. Talor Nunez, Zach Barnes, and Lonzell Gillmore all played major minutes last season and impressed in the spring. The defensive line was the main force during the spring and a big reason why the defense won two out of the three scrimmages. If this continues through this upcoming season, we will see major improvement.

Future

As experienced as this unit is, there is a good amount of youth on the roster. The monster recruiting class of 2016 which brought in five high school D lineman are all improving, including Joe Wallace. Wallace, the only freshman lineman not to get red-shirted, showed his potential last season and the force he can bring to this unit. Houston Miller, Noah Jones, and Nick McCann all will now have the opportunity to show their ability with four years of eligibility for them. It looks like Gibbs and new D line coach Terrance Jamison have gotten started on adding more pieces. Last week the Red Raiders received commitments from Cameron Valentine, a DE from Foster, John Graves, a DT from Lancaster, Jaylon Hutchins, a DT from Forney, and John Scott, a DT from Hitchcock. Pair these guys up with the 2016 class and it looks like Gibbs might finally have something in place for the coming years up front.